Why Humanities? 2018 Competition Winner

Why Humanities? Competition

Grace Hamelin - Why Humanities Competition Winner


The Humanities Research Group congratulates Grace Hamelin on winning the 2021 Why Humanities Competition

Her winning submission is a poem titled "Why Humanities? After Recovery, We Heal"


I’ll bet you’re watching the leaves,
like me,
because the colour left us for a moment there, didn’t it?
Left us pale enough to haunt the ghost year we’re inching away from.
The life we’ve been straining for is
painted between a poet’s lines,

but there was a nausea to it,
studying Wordsworth in a bedroom
with a window I didn’t have the stomach to open.
And it was numbing,
drawing the world from expired references,
unable to reconcile the new life and our old plans.
The questions of the philosophy of solidarity of solitary solace and
if comfort is possible at all,
became paralyzing,

So now, we step with groggy legs
and eyes still bracing for an aftershock,
but look,
the leaves, they’re flickering,
waving, saying
“I see you! I can see you now!
and suddenly the words, the paint, the questions,
aren’t enclosed, finite.
Suddenly you are surrounded.

In the Tomorrow that sees us
gaining back our hues,
humans, humanity, the humanities
embrace potential and
recovery is a brutal word.
Implies a return, a resumption,
a before to return to, an ideal to resume,
but history knows humanity doesn’t resume, return, recover,
we disassemble and rebuild.
Breathe in fresh Romantic words and exhale
a malleable life to
reshape, remold, rejuvenate.
Humanities give us something to aspire to,
perspectives to wear and bend,
a chance to imagine a best and a better
to re-do, readjust, and
that we are all trying to reassemble
the potential of the leaves
and how to use humanity-given empathy.

The writers, the artists, philosophers, professors,
connect us like tunnels snaking through our conscience,
unifying and reinforcing.
The passport to a healing world isn’t stamped at “recovery”
no longer paralyzed but still
remember to take the sonnets,
the art,
the studies,
the politics,
and stand them up like a mirror
lean them against the dull days.
This is us.
A collective, answers
that are always coming into more questions.

Soon, we will be past this age of separate,
Desperate to be known, understood,
but once we stand without guardrails
we must reclaim our movements,
Rediscover the psyche of walking, running, knowing.
To be known is to read,
to question, create, and revive
humans, humanity, the humanities
remind us of our power
to paint the leaves a new colour,
because our spirit left us for a moment there, didn’t it?